Revised model offers more Swift for your money
It was perhaps fitting that I handed over my Suzuki Swift after a week's test drive at the event to launch the Nissan Juke.
The last edition of the Swift was a really worthy winner of the 2006 Irish Car of the Year trophy, while the Juke stands a good chance of being in the shake-up for this year's award.
Not that the revised Swift won't be in the running this time. It builds on the massively successful last generation model which also achieved nearly 67 other "car of the year" awards from countries and various media organisations.
It now offers "more Swift". It is bigger in all directions and has much-improved economy, emissions and better performance and handling.
It still has its Mini looks but feels a lot bigger, both in the front and back. However, the luggage area is still a bit disappointing.
About 500 Swifts are expected to be sold next year to join the 3,608 sold during the five-year life of the previous model.
It was a car I really enjoyed driving as it is a brilliant town vehicle: nippy, confident and compliant -- I could see my partner enviously eye it from her Hyundai i10, which is grand little car but doesn't have the presence or style of the Swift.
Despite the almost maniacal switch to diesel engines -- mainly because of emissions --the Swift is sticking to petrol for the initial launch of the new model. This is a 1.2L petrol model with three and five doors in GL and GLX specification. The 93bhp engine with manual gearbox comes in the lowest road tax band. Retail prices for the new Swift start at €14,650, with the five-door €400 more and the GLX another €900 on that, with alloy wheels and air-conditioning as the main difference.
The Juke is also going the petrol model route, although its big sister the Qashqai was sold mainly as a diesel. Again this is because petrol technology has caught up in terms of economy and cleanliness. In fact with the Juke there is now a probably unwarranted €2,000 penalty for buying diesel.
The Juke, like its name, is a remarkably funky crossover with styling influences from sports cars, SUVs and even motorbikes. It hopes to do for the super-mini sector what the Qashqai did for the small family car.
And there's no doubt just what a success the Qashqai is. It almost single-handedly rescued Nissan in Europe and, with more than 13,500 sold, has been an amazing success over here. It has been a must- have car for so many families, and still most of the purchasers are new -- or "conquest" -- purchasers for Nissan. There are still 400 people waiting in the country for their Qashqais to be delivered.
People are really going to love or hate the Juke. This is a vehicle that makes a statement. Don't expect much space in the back or in the luggage area. This is a Fiesta or Mini competitor. But you will get good handling and lots of pzazz.
Prices start at €18,i95 which is just right to make an impact.